Volume LIV Number 6
Quadrant magazine is the leading general intellectual journal of ideas, literature, poetry and historical and political debate published in Australia.
Monologue of a Jewish Peacenik
Being nice to my enemies is a pet temptation of mine. I just cannot resist the wonderful feeling of being good--as really good and nice person as I can be--for everyone to see. I want to be nice to everyone, because I am a nice person and I need to be loved by everybody. I would love to be nice to my Arab friends but I don’t need to be because, as far as I know, I have none. I have decided, nevertheless, to be nice to my genetic cousins, so they will not miss out on my being nice to them. It feels like an unrequited love, because those Arabs who say they are my friends are mostly either economical with the truth, or have missed taking their anti-psychotic tablets, or are recovering from a hashish-induced delirium.
Sometimes I cannot help but marvel--isn't it nice that Israel has so many friends? It makes me feel good to know that every one of Israel's friends knows what Jews have to do in order to make peace with Arabs. Not a single friend hesitates to be blunt and unceremonious while telling Israel their opinion. Real friends insult each other sometimes, but Israel's friends do not like being insulted. They prefer to do the insulting themselves. I guess that if we want to have friends we have to forget about insulting others and learn not to notice being insulted by our friends. We have to be wise, tolerant, patient, civilised and forgiving. We do want to keep at least some friends, don't we?
That's where I come in--my peacenik friends and I will show everyone that there are some good and nice Jews, who can be frankly talked to, admonished and chastised without answering right back. Most importantly, we, the good Jews, can be made to feel guilty about the world's ills, and we are always ready to accept that it is all our fault. Isn't it amazing that every friend of Israel knows precisely what Israel has to do in order to make peace with Arabs? Israelis and Arabs don't but Israel's friends do. If, perchance, as a result of such a peace, Israel would be no more--that would not matter. The important thing is that the Arabs would be at peace.
So many people believe Israel is the root of all the evil in the world! They believe that Israel's existence harms Muslims so much that these poor souls cannot sleep at night, cannot eat, cannot breathe, cannot learn how to read and write, cannot work, and cannot let their women use contraceptives. It is the fault of the Israelis that they cannot live in peace with the world or with themselves. As a true peacenik, I think I have discovered the root cause of Arab troubles! Why didn't I think of it before! A billion and a half Muslims are oppressed by 18 million Jews. That is so obvious!
Being a nice and a good Jew, I think I ought to feel guilty about the Arabs being oppressed. Perhaps we Jews should do something about it. After all, the Egyptians oppressed the Jews for a while but were gracious enough to let the Jewish slaves go, after they had built all their pyramids. I think it was very nice of them (the Egyptians, not the Jewish slaves).
What could we, the 18,000,000 Jewish people left on the planet, do to improve the lives of the long-suffering 1,600,000,000 Muslims, oppressed by this handful of Jews? I remembered the old psychiatric method of loving a distressed and unloved patient back to health. Those patients who were loved back to health by their male psychiatrists were mostly young and pretty girls. Somehow, there were no volunteers to love the old and the ugly grannies. Anyway, if we can love and respect our distressed, oppressed and dispossessed genetic cousins to ensure they have a better life, a better mood, better Arab governments and better schooling, then perhaps, just perhaps, they could live in peace and quiet, and produce something useful besides petrodollars and terrorism? They might then even start publishing scientific papers in international journals? They might even start winning Nobel prizes for physics, medicine and other sciences, instead of cheating in negotiations or blowing things up. Or they might stop using their genitally mutilated women as baby factories and let them be free. Oh, the power of love! It could change the world.
I really feel sorry for the Arabs--every time a Jewish scientist wins a Nobel Prize, they must feel outraged and insulted. And what do Arabs do when they are outraged and insulted? They scream on the streets and explode themselves and others!
Here's another good idea for improving Arab lives. What if we, the Jews, all went quietly away? What if all the world's Jews could pile up on spaceships and go to another planet, preferably in another galaxy, far, far away. The friends of the Jews would surely feel that the improvement in the lives of one and a half billion Muslims would be immediate, huge and lasting. It is so simple. Let's consider this idea seriously.
Being a nice and understanding Jew, I am happy to see the advantages of a world without Jews--Judenrein, as the Arabs' close friend Adolf tried to achieve. First of all, of course--no more gefilte fish. Its smell (it's made of carp, can you imagine? Oh, the Jewish temerity to eat a fish nobody else wants!) would not assault the delicate sensibilities of the friends of the Jews. Then, with the Jews gone, nobody would answer a question with a question, or interrupt a polite conversation, or wave both hands in the air while speaking, or limit human follies with the Ten Commandments, or claim the status of the chosen people. Besides, the sons of Ishmael could, at last, redeem the honour of the simpleton Esau, who did not realise that he had surrendered his birthright to the devious and cunning Jacob.
However, there might be some drawbacks in a total absence of Jews. Importantly, there would nobody left to envy, to hate, to assault, to accuse of being wicked; there would be no more of the pleasant glow of self-righteousness, standing on the high moral ground, head and shoulders above the crowd, no more reassuring feeling of being victimised by those who are the root of all evil.
Since I have decided to be nice to those who hate me, this consideration is important--how could I leave Arabs without the Jews to hate? It might be too traumatic for them. They need someone to hate and to blame for their wretched lives. Without the Jews, Arabs might start blaming themselves or, even worse, their governments! Then it dawned on me that all is not lost, because as soon as the Jews disappeared, the Arabs would simply start hating someone else.
I really should be ashamed of myself, suspecting Arabs of exclusively hating Jews. I am relieved to report, dear reader, that nothing could be further from the truth. It is just a culture thing, accepted good manners, that's all. Being politically correct and nice, as I am, to those who hate me, I would never denigrate another national culture. For example, if anti-Semitism and genital mutilation of their own women are part of Arab culture, then we must respect this and love Arabs back as intensely as they hate Jews and their own mothers and daughters. So, on a practical level: if an Arab throws a brick at you--give him a flower. We also must learn how to be friends. Arabs should be invited to Jewish weddings and Jews should be frequent guests at Arab funerals. This is an important principle of reciprocity, an issue of balanced inter-communal relations.
Being a believer in the better qualities of human nature, I have come to the conclusion that Arabs hate everybody equally, on a non-discriminatory basis. I am, therefore, relieved to know that the disappearance of the Jews due to interplanetary migration or mass suicide would not deprive my genetic cousins of people to hate with equal venom. The stakes are very high here--the good cheer and happiness of one and a half billion Muslims versus the continued existence of a mere 18 million Jews worldwide. Therefore, mass Jewish suicide or interplanetary migration as a means of improving Arab lives is not out of the question. Altruistically speaking, we should give it a second thought. Still, it's good to know that Arabs, like an equal opportunity employer, do not discriminate against Jews when it comes to hating other people.
Now we have to ask ourselves--what is the root of the Arab anti-Jewish hatred? Using empathy as my principal tool, I can see clearly that Arabs have every reason to hate us. I think it is totally our Jewish fault. You ask me why? You still ask me why? Who repeatedly kicked the backsides of all Arab countries in several wars? Who gets awarded Nobel prizes with depressing regularity? Who taught everyone in a culturally imperialistic manner in those Ten Commandments--interfering with the most sacred cultural traditions of the Arab world--not to cheat, not to kill and not to steal? Who, in a mere sixty years, turned a piece of swampy desert into a garden? Who took an impoverished little country to First World prosperity? Got the picture? And you want Arabs, who have produced nothing, invented nothing and improved nothing in the last several hundred years, not to hate us Jews? If that's what you want, then you have no empathy or solicitude towards your enemy and you cannot be nice to them. Ergo, it is your own fault--I think.
I am very much concerned that after many years of electing leaders who were determined to be nice to our enemies, Israelis voted into office people with no empathy towards Arabs. The new Israeli government simply does not care how the Arabs feel. Just as importantly, they do not listen to the world, which is so concerned with the well-being of our enemies that they would help the Jews to disappear in the most humane and painless way so the Arabs could take over. That is what I call empathy, that is what I call being nice. Perhaps the rest of the hand-wringing world would send a couple of cruise ships to evacuate the Jewish remnants from the beaches of Tel Aviv to, say, Greenland. If Denmark would agree.
The un-empathic Israeli government does not give a toss about Arab sensibilities and dismisses all the good advice from all the friends of the Jews. I reckon that most of those friends could say that some of their best friends are Jews; that's why they are called friends of the Jews. How could the Israeli government go so low as to insist on Arab compliance with treaties? Don't they know that cheating has been a time-honoured Arab tradition since Mohammed double-crossed the Qurayshi? Naturally, Arabs are upset and want to blow up something. So there! Why? Do you still ask me why? Because they feel victimised by the cultural insensitivity of the right-wing Israeli government, that's why. And whose fault is this? The Israeli government's. They are not being nice.
Now, following the example of Barack Obama, I am putting the Israeli government on notice. Empathic man, Obama, so full of empathy for the oppressed Arabs that he has put the Israeli government in the naughty corner. He does not approve of their building cubby houses in Jerusalem. Imagine what chutzpah this Israeli government has! They want to build houses in their own capital without first asking for permission! Unforgivable! I decided to follow Barack Obama's example and tell the Israeli government what they must do to get back in my good books. If they don't do as they are told I will not love them. Ever.
First of all, they should remove the wall between the West Bank and Israel, so the suicide bombers can have a fair chance to release their repressed memories, repetitive strain, post-traumatic stress and inner child, or a child smeared on the asphalt after an explosion, whatever the case may be. Building a wall under the flimsy pretext of protecting Jewish lives is just not good enough. It is culturally offensive. It is not therapeutic. This wall stops the circulation of ideas and friendly contacts. It is not nice. The wall has to go.
They also should stop interfering with the free and unfettered exercise of the culturally determined expression of masculinity and bravery of the Arab warriors when they fire Qassam rockets to Israel from Gaza. To start a war against Gaza only because some 8000 teeny-weeny rockets-shmockets were fired on Israel! Imagine that! It is a gross violation of the human rights of the nice and inquisitive Palestinians. All they wanted was to find out what colour Israelis are from the inside. How could the Israeli Army shoot at these nice young men? It is not nice. It is way over the top, disproportionate and brutal. Let them shoot those Qassams and dig tunnels. What else could they do--they are mostly illiterate and bored. All they can do is to dig tunnels, squeeze triggers, push buttons and blame the Jews for their misfortunes. We must be compassionate and learn to live underground. I say--live and let live. Let the Gazans live in their underground tunnels and the Jews in their underground shelters. Now that's symmetrical. Now that's proportionate.
It is a similar story with Iran. We are being scared by some alarmist right-wing capitalist warmongers about the nuclear danger coming from this peace-loving, democratic and tolerant state. I say: nuclear-shmuclear. Forget it! Take a lead from the outstanding peace-maker of our time--Barack Hussein Obama. He is reaching out his hand to the Iranians in friendship, brotherly love and niceness. He is reaching out his hand to the Iranians … He is reaching out his hand to the Iranians …
In conclusion, I implore you all--be nice to your enemies, whoever they are, be polite to them, be humble and inoffensive. Most importantly--be submissive. That's all they want. Always agree with whatever they say. Respect their culture as superior to your own, be empathic and see things from their point of view--that’s not too much to ask, is it? They might say nice things about you, after they kill you. Be nice to your enemies.
And now, children, let's all sing "Puff, the Magic Dragon".
Dr Michael Galak has written several articles for Quadrant.